BULLDOGS TOPPLE ROBERT MORRIS, 84-77, FOR FIRST TIME ON ROAD IN NEC OPENER THURSDAY
MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. – Sophomore guard Dyami Starks (Duluth, Minn.) scored a career-high 29 points and senior point guard Frankie Dobbs (Berea, Ohio) tied his career-best with 26 more to lead the Bryant University men's basketball team to its first-ever victory over Northeast Conference foe Robert Morris, 84-77, on the road in the league opener Thursday night.
Just five players recorded points for the Bulldogs (8-4, 1-0 NEC) and only four were on the board until the final two minutes of the outing, as junior Alex Francis (Harlem, N.Y.) contributed 18 points and a game-best nine rebounds. Junior Corey Maynard (Adelaide, Australia) went 4-for-4 from the line in the final 98 seconds while sophomore Joe O'Shea (Burlington, Vt.) added seven more to complete the scoring.
As a team, the Bulldogs went 29-for-36 from the charity stripe and pulled in 39 boards, outrebounding Robert Morris (8-6, 0-1) by five. The Colonials were paced by 24 points from Velton Jones and saw four players record double figures, outshooting their visitors, 43.8 to 42.0 percent. The Bulldogs went 13-for-25 (52 percent) from beyond the arc, including a career-high seven trifectas from Starks, scoring just 12 points in the paint in their seventh first-time victory of the 2012-13 season.
"What I was thinking about at the end of the game was that two years ago when we played here, the final score was 91-38," said head coach Tim O'Shea. "From that prospective, it really is satisfying to see just how far we've come in two years."
The Bulldogs and the Colonials battled all game long, keeping the first half tight for a 33-32 Bulldog edge at the intermission. Out of the break, Starks opened the second half the same way he started the game – with a three from the right side. But Robert Morris would even the score at 36-36 quickly, as Bryant struggled to find the net thanks in part to three early Colonial blocks.
Starks would give Bryant a five-point cushion, 43-38, when he followed up a layup with a steal going the other way, capping off the play with another breakaway layup. Starks upped his team's edge to eight points seconds after, hitting the fifth of his seven trifectas on the night with 14:18 remaining in the contest.
Not to be outdone, Dobbs gave Bryant its biggest lead of the game to that point with just over 11 left on the clock, connecting on his fifth trey as well for a 51-41 advantage. But Dobbs would pick up his third foul soon after, and Karvel Anderson would score eight-straight points for the home side, helping the hosts even the score once more, 51-51, as the clock ticked under nine minutes to play.
Multiple quick fouls from the Colonials allowed the Bulldogs to take a 56-51 lead at the free throw line, and back-to-back threes from Starks just 44 seconds apart widened the gap back to eight points, 68-60, with 3:10 to play, prompting a Robert Morris timeout.
Only 15 seconds later, Francis would take a huge charge whistle going the other way, making his two double-bonus free throws to up Bryant's lead back to 10, 70-60. The Bulldogs needed every inch of that lead, too, as tough Robert Morris defensive pressure cut the game to just four, 79-75, with 34 seconds remaining. But Bryant would hit its free throws down the stretch to complete the 84-77 victory.
Robert Morris would commit 20 second-half fouls in the loss, while Bryant's 84 points marked a new season high for the second-consecutive outing.
The Bulldogs remain on the road for their next contest and take their current three-game winning streak to Loretto, Pa., for a 4 p.m. Saturday contest against Saint Francis University to wrap up NEC opening weekend action.